The toll of capturing the horrors of Hamas at kibbutz Kfar Aza

Photographer Gianluca Cecere, who flew to Israel on a one-way ticket as soon as war broke out, says he will never be able to forget what he saw


Since he left Kfar Azar, Gianluca Cecere has not been able to forget the smell of rotting corpses.

The Italian photographer, who flew to Israel on a one-way ticket after the outbreak of war, spent a day this week touring the ruined kibbutz that saw much of the worst of Hamas’s atrocities.

On October 7, around 70 Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the village after attacking from four different directions. Adults, children and babies were murdered in cold blood; many were found in their beds with their throats cut.

The scene, Major General Itai Veruv told The Times, was less reminiscent of a war than of a genocide.

“I’ve never seen anything that comes close to this,” he said.

“It’s not even something that our parents knew. This is something out of the world of our grandfathers back in Europe, from the pogroms and the Holocaust.”

Cecere, who recently covered the war in Ukraine, said that while he had worked in abandoned towns many times before, Kfar Azar felt unique.

“The first feeling is the ghost town,” he said. “You see that life was there just one minute before. It’s like a ghost town that one minute before was not a ghost town, it was a town full of life. You see a lot of stuff that demonstrates people were eating, people were watching TV, people were having their normal lives.”

As Cecere walked around, he said, the sound of vast explosions could be heard every few minutes from the Gaza Strip.

The noise served to remind the journalists present that the war launched on October 7 had only just begun.

“When I was in a house, a soldier told me, ‘Be careful because we checked but there could still be a bomb, be careful where to put your feet.’

"I have to say what I saw with my eyes was not something that is linked to human beings, it was something not human. I saw burnt houses and damaged cars. Very incredible destruction.

"[The attack was] not only a revenge against people, not against someone that Hamas could consider an enemy — it was something inhuman.”

On his 11th reporting trip to Israel, Cecere says he has never seen the Jewish state so depressed. Every older person he talked to told him that this is the worst period for the country since the Six-Day War in 1967.

“I feel very sad now,” he added.

“After what I saw yesterday I understand, Israel is full of sadness.”

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